Auckland's Cheltenham Beach on a hot sunny day at low tide is the BEST place to be. And it's where you'll find me, as much as possible, over the next few summer months.
At low tide you can wade through crystal clear shallow water until it seems you'll reach Rangitoto island and still find the water only up to your knees. (Well, at least until you begin to reach the channel, during which time the water quickly deepens and becomes choppy and you start to wonder if one more step will drop you over your head. It's always at that point that I realise just how far from the shoreline I have waded, and turn back in fear of sharks - and of being over my head.)
There is an ankle-deep stretch of water that forms between the beach and a super low sand bar that shows itself during low tide. This water warms up nicely in the sun and is perfect for a 20 month old who wants to splash about but is still nervous of the ocean.
Cheltenham, and neighbouring Narrow Neck, are the beaches of my childhood. My happiest memories are the ones created here. From digging for pippis at Cheltenham, to wandering the rocks of Narrow Neck in search of sea snails (which in hindsight, fill me with horror to know that my mother actually made me think it was normal to eat those things!)
It may not be so easy for our family to reach the beach these days, being that we have to make a 25 minute drive as opposed to the 5 minute stroll of my childhood, but I plan to help the munchkins create as many awesome memories at this place as I can.
But maybe without the collecting and eating of sea snails.